Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Christmas recipe

1 uptight, rigid, fundamentalist Christian daughter, politically and culturally at odds with the rest of her family who, at 40, has failed to fulfill her only life goal of becoming wife and mother and is prone to pitching fits

2 70 year-old parents who have spent 40 years trying to avoid pitched fits

1 loner daughter who would rather avoid her family than deal with the conflict that ensues when Republican Christian sister is around Liberal Atheist sister

2 dogs: one whiny and clingy, one sweet and lovable and perfect in all ways (that's mine - maybe my description of this ingredient is biased)

1 "outsider" being allowed to share Christmas for the first time

Put the above in a room together and wait for the mixture to spontaneously combust.  (Combustion usually occurs only after the "outsider" has been removed, like a bay leaf.)

Ingredient prep actually began about a week before Christmas, when plans were finalized for the "outsider" (hereafter known as SO) to attend Christmas Eve and morning.  Mom informed me that SO would have to sleep in the basement to avoid Sis pitching a fit.  Keep in mind that SO and I have been together for 4 years and have been on many trips together.  Also that he has spent the night at my parents' house before, sleeping with me in my room with its double bed.  I don't think anyone, even my sister, can truly be naive enough to think that we've never slept in the same bed before.  (Really, they can't think we've never had sex, can they?  But, I assure you, I am in no hurry to have sex in that house with my parents just down the hall.  I'm not a 19 year-old on winter break from college.) 

My parents are both pretty progressive folks, and they certainly don't get their ideas on morality from the Bible, and I'm pretty sure that having been married for 45 years, they understand that sharing a bed with your significant other isn't about sex at all, so I'm confident they were only imposing the SO-sleeps-in-the-basement rule to mollify Sis.  Oh, and they also both told me they were only imposing the rule for her benefit and that he would otherwise be allowed to sleep in my room.  Like he did before.

So for the week before Christmas, I was already simmering.  Why does my sister's tendency to be rigid, intolerant, and judgmental have to dictate the rules in my parents' house?  Why should I have to modify my behavior so she won't be offended?  And why do my parents always expect that they can keep her from pitching fits at my expense without expecting me to pitch a fit in response?  (Well, because they know I won't pitch a fit.  It's just not in me.)  Of course, SO wasn't going to complain about sleeping in the basement, but it sure ticked me off.

Cut to Christmas Eve.  I've made the bed in the basement before SO arrives.  When he gets there,  I bring him downstairs to deposit his stuff.  Both dogs follow us.  One gets a tad more attention from the new arrival by virtue of being his dog.  The other one apparently doesn't like the lack of attention, being whiny and needy and all.  So my sister's dog gets up on the bed and squats. 

I spotted her and yelled her name, but not before a good puddle of urine spread out on the bed.  Ick.  Sis steadfastly maintains that it was an accident, but I know dogs.  Dogs don't jump up onto the bed and squat when they have accidents. 

As my sister took off the bedding, she said, "The ONLY [heavy emphasis on this word] other option is for you to sleep in the extra bed in my room and SO can have your room."  Really?  That, in fact, was not the only other option.  For starters, SO could just sleep in my room with me like a grown-up.  Or she could sleep in the basement on the pee bed and then she would never have to know if SO slept in my room with me like a grown-up.

I would like to be able to tell you that I told her she should sleep on the pee bed.  Or that I slept in the basement with SO.  Or that I told my parents I resented being treated as the less important daughter and that they shouldn't let my sister's religious views dictate the rules in their house.  Or that I told my sister that her dog intentionally peeing on the basement bed was a clear sign from her god that he didn't want SO to sleep in the basement.  Or that I told my sister that I have no belief whatsoever in her god and don't think her belief should dictate how all the rest of us behave.  Or that my dog went up and peed on her bed.

But none of those things happened.  We washed the sheets and blankets.  We remade the bed.  SO slept down there, without complaint.  I didn't because the basement is creepy and cold.  And because a dog had peed on the bed.  And my parents have no idea how ticked I am about the whole thing.  I avoided confirming for my sister that I'm an atheist, which would undoubtedly set her off on trying to save my soul.  And my dog is too well-behaved to pee on a bed.  So that whole combustion thing never really happened except in my head.  But if I had spoken up, I'm sure the ensuing fight would have been very, very fiery. 


mikeb302000 said...

What a fascinating wonderful family you have. Thanks for describing it so well.

Happy New Year, S.

Meryl said...

I'm trying to think of something witty, but the only thing that's coming to mind is...(in song)

Rock the Boat
(Don't rock the boat baby)
Rock the Boat
(Don't tip the boat over)....

Anali said...

A whole lot of stewing, simmering, and sometimes boiling over happens over the holidays. And I don't mean just the homemade cranberry sauce on the stove.

Happy Holidays to you! Hopefully you'll have a better New Year's! ; )

Moxie said...

I cannot BELIEVE that you and SO sleep in the same bed together and have The Sex when you aren't even married.

Sinner, sinner, chicken dinner!

Oh wait...pot...kettle...something like that. ;-)

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